Lt. Gov. Says Hoboken St. Patrick's Day Could Be Boon For Business
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno's visit to a local bar highlights one of Hoboken's biggest challenges post-Sandy.
While towns along the Jersey Shore have several months to get ready for their high tourist season, Hoboken has only six weeks before St. Patrick's Day.
Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno believes it could give a much-needed boost to businesses in the Mile Square City.
On a visit to Zack's Oak Bar and Restaurant on Willow Ave. Thursday afternoon, Guadagno spoke with bar co-owner Sheila Nisler and Mayor Dawn Zimmer about the challenges facing small businesses post-Sandy.
Guadagno suggested the mobs of green-clad bar hoppers that descend on Hoboken the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day should do their part responsibly.
"They should put away their drinking caps and go shopping and eating," she said, only half in jest.
When asked what she thought of the idea, Mayor Dawn Zimmer said she wants visitors to come back to Hoboken.
The city is planning to host it's second annual Irish Cultural Festival on a Wednesday in March to be announced. The annual parade was cancelled last year and replaced with "LepreCon," a pub crawl organized by local bar owners.
Zimmer doesn't regret the changes.
"It's challenging resource-wise," she said. "We cannot afford to pay for all the security."
Right now, the city's bigger challenge is balancing two conflicting messages: telling visitors that Hoboken is "open for business," while advocating for funds to help businesses that are still struggling as they wait for FEMA and insurance payouts.
Sheila Nisler from Zack's is intimately familiar with that challenge.
Less than one week after the storm, Nisler's staff cleaned up the bar well enough to open its doors, serving what was for some Hoboken residents their first hot meal in days.
However, Zack's will have to close again. That is, once their insurance money arrives to complete more extensive repairs to the floors and the restoration of the historic oak bar from the late 1800s. But Nisler is optimistic the work will get done quickly.
"We've been a lucky one," Nisler said.
Whether it's the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day or the average Thursday night, Nisler said business owners like her are counting on their neighbors to come out and support them.
"Everybody wants Hoboken to thrive. Everybody wants Hoboken to be what it was."